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The Geochemistry Department of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Earth Sciences Division has its roots beginning with mapping the distribution of naturally occurring radioactive minerals (NORM) during the 1960s. From there, research expanded into geothermal energy and radioactive waste disposal research during the 1970s, officially becoming a department within the newly founded Earth Sciences Division (ESD) in 1977. A major shift in the Department’s focus towards more basic energy research occurred in 1988 with the arrival of Donald DePaolo (former director of ESD, now ALD for Berkeley Lab's Energy Area) and the founding of the Center for Isotope Geochemistry. The 1990s represented a decade of expansion into geochemical research related to the Yucca Mountain project (including the initiation of the reactive transport group within geochemistry), climate research (which was spun off into the Climate Sciences Department in 2007), environmental remediation sciences and molecular-scale geochemical processes.
The current Geochemistry Department Head is Peter Nico.